On June 17, 2017, at 1:47 a.m. marks the 45th anniversary of the break-in at the Watergate, a crime that eventually would lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon and spark the biggest political scandal in American history (as of today).
Below is an excerpt from my forthcoming book, Watergate’s Forgotten Hero: Frank Wills, Night Watchman.
June 17, 1972
It was a typical June evening in Washington, D.C. – warm and sticky.
As most DC residents were coming home from a day’s work, Frank Wills was beginning his job. The twenty-four-year-old night watchman was scheduled for the graveyard shift, midnight to 8:00 a.m., at the eleven-story Watergate Office Building. The lanky, six-foot South Carolina native was dressed in his company-issued uniform: blue button-down shirt, blue slacks, blue jacket, and a can of Mace.
On that particular humid summer evening, Wills opted to walk instead of taking the public bus.
He was working for General Security Services, his employer, for more than a year, yet he felt like he “wasn’t going anywhere” with this job. Paid a paltry $80 a week, the young watchman often thought about “getting a better job and making some money.”
Wills was assigned to guard 2600 Virginia Avenue, one of the six new buildings located in the ten-acre Watergate Towne Complex. Of the six towers, four were residential (including a hotel) while the other two were used for offices. His main duties were to check every door, hallway, parking garage, and potential entry point of one of the office buildings to ensure it was locked and secured.
That evening, Wills arrived ten minutes early to his shift. The guard he was relieving told him he would be on his own; the colleague who was supposed to work alongside Wills had called in sick.
Normally, activity at an office building like this one winds down by the dinner hour. Recently, though, the building had a steady flow of young and ambitious workers who were coming to and leaving from the sixth floor, home to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters. Less than four months until Election Day, the DNC was in full swing, not allowing a single minute to go to waste.
But on that night, the Watergate was eerily silent.
Thanks to his keen observational skills and self-confidence, within two hours of his shift Frank Wills went from obscurity to celebrity.
His’ life would change forever. And so would the nation’s.
I hope you enjoyed the abbreviated introduction to my next book, Watergate’s Forgotten Hero: Frank Wills, Night Watchman. If you’d like to follow my progress in the writing of Frank Wills, sign-up for my monthly newsletter by filling out the form below.